Care of elderly people by the general practitioner and the geriatrician in Belgium: a qualitative study of their relationship
Isabelle Dagneaux1, Isabelle Gilard2, Jan De Lepeleire3
1Chair of General Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; 2Geriatric Day Hospital, Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; 3Department of General Practice, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
Objectives: The care of elderly people is a large part of a general practitioner's work. The growing elderly population means that the medical community must give thought to the management of their care. Within this large field, we focused on the relationship between general practitioners and hospital geriatricians.
Methods: Focus group discussions were performed to describe the collaboration between general practitioners and hospital geriatricians: four of these focus groups contained only general practitioners, two groups contained only hospital geriatricians, and one group was made up of general practitioners and hospital specialists. Participants were invited to speak about bad or good experiences of intercollaboration. The discussions were recorded, transcribed, and coded.
Results: An important regional disparity was observed: better relationships and easier collaboration were reported in those regions that benefit from a wider range of geriatric services. In areas with few geriatric services, doctors knew little of other professionals and reported suspicion and even conflicts. Positive experiences and communication favor good relationships.
Conclusions: The collaboration between general practitioners and hospital geriatricians should be enhanced: information, exchanges, and reflection on roles and competencies are essential.
Keywords: geriatrics, general practitioner, collaboration, qualitative research, elderly
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